Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top 50 Video Game Moments: Number 32

Today's moment comes to us from Call of Duty 4. It's a pretty significant end-of-game spoiler, so if you haven't played the game yet (but plan to), steer clear.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Top 50 Video Games: Number 32

Stats of Import

Platform: Sega Gensis
Absurdly Specific Genre: Robot Vengeance
Difficulty: A blind play would probably give it a 7, once I had it down, I could beat the game pretty easily.
Beaten: Yes,three or four times.

God bless side-scrolling shooters. It seems odd that I only have three on this list (one of which - strangely not on the Contra series - has yet to be seen), considering my love of the genre.

Vectorman always struck me as a very underrated game. It probably wasn't, but it seemed that way at the time. While all my friends were raving about Contra: Hard Corps (which, truth be told came in on this list at number 51) and Mega Man X, I had love for Vectorman. The graphics were incredible for its time, the weapon design seemed cool, the different enemies were imaginative and varied, and the gameplay itself switched up continually and never seemed to get dull.

Okay, so in this level, I'm a.. spider? On a bamboo mat... getting stomped on by metal hooves?? What drugs were these people on?
This brings up the point that Vectorman had a serious case of ADD-level design. There were 3 or 4 levels that lasted under a minute where you'd be taken out of the side-scrolling and be placed in a variety of places to do a quick dose of combat with the boss (besides the above-pictured example, you could become a train suspended on a track a mile in the air, a spinning tornado-like thing on a dance floor, things like that... it made no sense gameplay or story-wise, but it was still fun). In addition, the backgrounds of the 'normal' levels were stunning, and varied from normal overworld, to underwater, to snow-covered mountains (with snow falling).

...and, yes... the ubiquitous "factory" level.
Every good side-scrolling shooter needs memorable bosses, and Vectorman delivered on that front. The bosses were tough to beat (I remember Clockwork kicking my face in numerous times), but they had their little quirks that made them interesting. Oddly enough, the only level that I didn't really feel was the final level - a giant tornado where you jumped on debris until you got to the top, fighting Warhead as you attempted to avoid random crap that he would fling at you. It didn't quite feel like the big epic finale that I would've liked (if he would've been situated at the end of the previous level, and if they would've made it a three-part fight or some such, that would've been a lot better).

Either way, the rest of the game easily overshadowed any flaws the end might have had. I still go back to this one every so often, and it still kicks (my) ass.


Other Notable Games in the Series: Vectorman 2 was hard to find, and when I did find it, I didn't care for it quite as much. I should probably give it another try.

Vectorman 3 was supposed to come out for the PS2 in the early 00s, but was cancelled pretty early in the project. Just as well, the screenshots didn't look anything like the charming sode-scroller it had been back in the day.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Top 50 Video Games: Number 33

Stats of Import

Platform: PS2
Absurdly Specific Genre: Hell, I don't have any idea what it was about. Something about darkness... and hearts... and Donald Duck.
Difficulty: I jotted a '5' here, but I died quite a bit in some places, so I think a 6 or even a 7 is probably more warranted.
Beaten: Yes, indeed.

It's kind of hard to quantify my love for Kingdom Hearts. On the surface, it would seem to tap into the nostalgia I have for both Disney canon and characters from the Final Fantasy series. In reality. since it rips all these characters out of context and tosses them in only vaguely familiar surroundings, it doesn't actually cash in on much of that promised nostalgia (hearing Donald Duck and Goofy talk about the plot can occasionally be weirdly jarring).

Gawrsh, Sora... If them Heartless catch up to us, they'll probably rip our souls out of our dead bodies. Ar-yuck!
The plot is nonsensical to the point where I was autopilot toward the end. It sort of ends up going like this: something, something, Big Bad, something, something, darkness... Mickey Mouse (that last part is kind of a spoiler, but seriously... if you expected that perhaps Mickey Mouse would not be showing up in this game after being referred to from pretty much the first half hour on, then you need to hand in your "Awareness of Popular Media Plotting" merit badge). The battles are fun and engaging. In fact, 'fun' is a pretty common thread throughout the game.

Take this battle, for instance. There is very little that is not awesome about fighting a Cerberus as Hercules runs away like a scared sissy.
It seems obvious that 'fun' would be a pretty consistent thread in a video game "best of" list, but it really bears saying for this one. Even when the plot goes off the rails, the game is still fun to play at all times. It's a hack'n'slash with soul and more than its fair share of entertainment. It took my expectations and tossed them out the window - and made me love it in the process.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Real Life Can Be So Annoying Sometimes

Between work, golfing (poorly), salsa making (pretty damn well, thank you), and a host of other nonsense, I've been left with precious few minutes to formulate thoughts on video games.

To hell with that noise.

Tonight, you get the next entry in the video game list (number 33 - Big Rigs Over the Road Racing!, and starting tomorrow, it goes down on the 'once a week' schedule. BANK ON IT (actually don't, because I'm notoriously flaky when it comes to these, but I'm serious, I really do hope to keep up with this now).